Workers of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) at Broadcasting House in Accra, have expressed concern about the interdiction of the Director of Television, Mr Charles Kofi Bucknor and four journalists for broadcasting a story on Ghana Airways without cross-checking the facts.
“The action by management is too high-handed. It will instil unnecessary fear in journalists and kill initiative,” some of the workers complained, adding that “management is trying to set a very dangerous precedent and they should not be allowed to have their way.”
The journalists on interdiction are, Messrs Emmanuel Vorgbe, Editor-In-Chief, Francis Sasu, Assistant Chief Editor, Nana Yaw Duodu, Assistant Editor and Solomon Eyiah, a journalist on contract.Their interdiction follows the broadcast of a story on GTV's Business News on Thursday, August 26, 2004, which suggested that negotiations between Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines (GIA), a US-based consortium, had been suspended.
The story, which was credited to the Pan African News Agency and picked from the internet, turned out to be non-factual.On Friday, August 27, 2004, the Daily Graphic carried another story, which quoted government sources as saying that GIA had finally received the nod as the strategic partner of Ghana Airways.
Consequently, the GTV business team took steps, in the Friday, August 27, 2004, edition of the GTV Business News, to correct the earlier misleading story it carried and apologised but that did not stop the management of GBC from reacting.A letter of interdiction dated August 27, 2004 and signed by the acting Director of Administration, Mr Harrison Afful, said the affected persons were being interdicted for picking a story on the internet and broadcasting it without cross-checking the facts, as required by journalistic ethics.
The letter noted that the broadcast of the story had embarrassed the corporation and the nation as a whole. Messrs Bucknor, Vorgbe, Sasu, Duodu and Eyiah, would be on two-thirds of their salary while on interdiction pending the outcome of investigations by a three-member committee set up to look into the matter.
When the Graphic contacted the acting Director of Administration, Mr Afful, to cross-check the story, he said the issue was an internal affair and, therefore, declined to comment further.Several efforts to talk to the Director-General, Ms Eva Lokko, did not succeed as she was said to be attending meetings.
Although the executive of the local GBC union admitted that it was an error to use the story without cross-checking the facts, they felt the interdiction of the four unionised workers (excluding Mr Bucknor) was inappropriate and violated the provisions of their Collective Agreement.
Some members of the executive who pleaded anonymity, explained that a committee should have been set up first to investigate the matter after which appropriate punishment, if any, could be applied in line with Article 23 of the Collective Agreement.They said the interdiction was unlawful because it presupposed that the affected persons had committed a criminal offence, but which was not the case.
When contacted, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, said the GJA received a letter on Wednesday evening, officially informing the association about the interdiction of the journalists.She said the GJA would do something about the issue but noted that she could not immediately tell what exactly the association would do.